My eyelids flick open.
The cause is the sound of a door being slammed shut. I must have been asleep which is refreshing. I don’t sleep very much and tonight I am in a hotel in Doncaster, hotels just make me worse. I can hear that constant hum that resonates around hotels, I have no idea what it is but I can hear it, the more I know I hear it the louder it gets. There is also light everywhere, through every nook and cranny in this room light finds its way inside.
My mind immediately turns to poker and the session I played last night. One good thing to say about this hotel is the Wi-Fi is free of charge, this is an absolute blessing for any bloke stuck in a hotel room because it means I have unlimited access to the two most important things in life online poker and pornography. I switch my Blackberry on hoping it is close to 05:45 but sensing it is nowhere near it. It is 03:40! I have slept for 3 hours and 40 minutes. I close my eyes and try to go back to sleep but my mind keeps going back to 9-5o, the final hand of the night. I had 9-5o in the BB. The SB raised to $4, something he was doing a lot so I re-popped him for $12. He timed and came back over the top for $22. I pressed the timer button looked at his notes and saw that had a propensity to four bet for a low amount and fold to a shove so I shoved $150. He pressed the timer and eventually called with 10-10. He hit quads on the flop, as if he needed them against 9-5o!
There is an old myth that men think about sex every seven seconds, I used to I am sure of it, now I think of 95o! The great George Best once said that scoring a goal was better than sex! I am sure he didn’t literally mean what he said but I understand the point he was trying to make.
Things are not going well in the online cash games. My problem is I think I am Georgie Best! When I first started playing 6 max cash games I had a rush of good results playing two tables of 6-max 200nl. I grew a bankroll of next to nothing to $7k in no time at all and now I cannot hold down any form of consistency. I have gained so much more technical and theoretical knowledge of the game yet my cash results are –EV.
So why the comparison to George Best?
The younger people (like me) remember George Best through television moments. Moments where he dribbles through countless players before deftly chipping the Goalkeeper, moments of magic! We remember these “fancy plays” but we don’t remember the ABC of his game, it is not normally discussed in the football world. I should imagine if you played alongside him he would have infuriated you more often than he exhilarated you. I should imagine there were times when his teammates used to scream at him for trying too hard, being too fancy and not playing the simple ball. In modern times Messi, Ronaldo and Ronaldinho could all fall into the same genre. My great friend and poker partner Neil “Farm” Jones must say to me at least ten times per day “Why do you bluff Ching? Slow down Ching! Tighten up Ching! You are out thinking yourself Ching!”
So what is happening to me?
I am suffering from “Fancy Play Syndrome” or FPS for short. I have caught this disease from online poker training sites and literature. Now I am not advocating boycotting this type of learning, far from it, I encourage it. However, you need to be very wary of it. Gaining the theoretical skills and knowledge in the game of poker can be dangerous if you don’t know how to implement that theory practically. It is a little bit like losing your virginity. You have read all the magazines, watched all the videos, listened to all the advice from your experienced mates and when the big day comes you suffer from “DVD Syndrome”
Slam it in!
You basically do not have a clue how to handle all of this theoretical knowledge and understanding and you blow it (literally!)
I learn my trade on Bluefirepoker.com. I chose the site because they have some of the greatest online cash game players in the world. I was fortunate enough to convince one of their tutors to give me his entire hand histories for the first six months of 2009, a period of the year when he won over $250k playing in 6-max cash games online. His name is Martin Fournier Giguère aka Dr Giggy. When I watched Martin’s play through my replayer I noticed that he seemed to be playing ABC. I never saw him in a big pot that he wasn’t in control of. Yet this was not the style I had seen him teach. I wrote to him for some advice recently and this is what he said.
“A poker player usually goes through some phases... at first he totally sucks, doesn't even know what SOLID POKER is. Then, he learns about SOLID POKER but puts it badly in practice. Then, with some practice, he starts to understand SOLID POKER, but he has no moves in his arsenal and keeps turning his hand face-up. Then, to try and elevate his game level, he learns about fancy moves. He now sees fancy moves everywhere and uses them like a retard, thinking it is better than SOLID POKER. And one day, he realizes that fancy moves are only good when used rarely, and most importantly when combined to SOLID POKER.”
When I started this journey I had no “fancy moves”. If I had it I tried to get as much value as I could and if I didn’t I folded. I was risk averse something that doesn’t come naturally to me. Through the excellent coaching at BluefirePoker.com I have taken my theoretical game to a new level. I am now capable of dribbling past ten players and sticking the ball into the back of the net. It has taken me four months, $4k and some excellent advice from one of the world’s top online pros to learn that fancy moves should be used sparingly. Opportunities will present themselves and a great player will see them and exploit them. A bad player forces those opportunities when they don’t exist and ends up dropping their guts on the floor.
FPS does not just attack you in the online world. The disease follows you in the B&M card-rooms as well. The difference between the two is immense. As I type there are over fifty thousand people playing cards on Full Tilt Poker, no-one cares when you push your entire stack into the middle with 9-5o. It is a different story in your local card game! The embarrassment and frustration you get when you start getting attacked by FPS in a local game can kill you. You spend your entire life talking about poker with people who care about poker. I can hear myself now.
“I play everyday online, I am a semi professional player”
“I have an article in a poker magazine”
I then make a fancy play against the legendary Terry Welsh in my Tuesday night home game. Terry has already sunk ten pints of bitter and has started on the whisky and I expect him to follow my logic. I make my play and Terry calls me down and wins my money. The board is A47 10 2. I have donk led into him for three streets with K-Q and Terry has 9-9.
“What the f*&k Terry!” I scream “Didn’t you think I had an Ace?”
“Thinking is not really my thing Ching!” says Terry has he sweeps my weeks wages over to his side of the table.
I leave, thinking Terry is the worst player in the world. In hindsight it is me who is the mug, me who is the bad player.
Now I know what I am suffering from (FPS), I must find the cure and I must find it pretty quick. Its 05:00 now, lets not waste time I have a seminar to go to in two hours. I log on for some nice old boring solid poker, hopefully there will be just one fantastically timed dribble from the half way line and a lob over the goalies head thrown in for good measure, only one!
Me like Georgie Best? I don’t think Georgie Best had a cup of tea when he went to the pub!
First Published in Poker Pro Europe Magazine